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Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA Ballon d'Or for a third time

By Staff Reporter

Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the world's best player for the second straight year -and then declared his desire to go down in history as one of the greatest football players of all time.

The 29-year-old beat Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer to win the prestigious FIFA Ballon d'Or after a season which saw him score 57 goals for club and country and win four trophies with Real Madrid.

But Ireland's Stephanie Roche missed out on becoming the first woman to win the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year as she was beaten to the prize by Colombia's James Rodriguez.

Ronaldo has now been voted world footballer of the year three times, one short of four-time winner Messi, and stressed his determination to win more awards in the years to come.

He said: "I want to continue working as I have so far to go on to win more titles as an individual and in a team. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time and this requires a lot of effort but I hope to get there."

Ronaldo was a clear winner with 37.66 per cent of total votes cast by a panel made up of captains, coaches and media members from all FIFA affiliate associations. Messi took second with 15.76 per cent, just ahead of Neuer on 15.72.

England manager Roy Hodgson left both Ronaldo and Messi out of his own top three, voting instead for Argentina’s Javier Mascherano ahead of Germany pair Philipp Lahm and Neuer.

Messi was naturally disappointed to miss out on the main award, but added fuel to the speculation fire surrounding his future at Barcelona.

The Argentina superstar stressed he would like to end his career at Camp Nou — but conceded that outcome was far from certain.

Having denounced talk of a move to the Barclays Premier League as “lies” last week, Messi added last night: “I’m not sure where I’m going to be next year.

“I’ve always said I would like to finish my career at Barcelona... nobody knows what the future holds, much less so in the case of the football world, where so many things can change overnight.”

Republic of Ireland international Roche was part of the star-studded audience in Zurich but saw Rodriguez’s stunning effort against Uruguay in the World Cup voted goal of the year.

Roche, who became an internet sensation following her stunning volley for Peamount United against Wexford Youths Women last year, was on a three-strong shortlist also including Robin van Persie diving header in Holland’s World Cup win over Spain.

Over six million fans viewed Roche’s goal on YouTube, sparking hopes Roche could become the first woman to claim the coveted award at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.

Unlike her two rivals for the award, Roche’s goal had been watched live by just 95 spectators and was filmed on a camcorder by Wexford coach John Flood.

Roche collected a short cross from the right on her right instep, flicked it over bemused defender Laura Heffernan with her other boot and from 25 yards struck a left-footed missile of a volley that found the top-right corner.

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